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The Vault

BSW Prototype Gas-Operated Pistol (Video)

bsw

In 1936 or 1937, the BSW company (Berlin-Suhler Waffenwerk) produced a small number of prototype pistols for German Army trials. These trials were eventually won by the Walther P38, and for good reason in this case. The pistol BSW submitted was a gas-accellerated blowback design, with an aluminum frame, stamped slide, 13-round magazine (in 9×19), [...]

Khyber Pass Colt Copy at RIA

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The Khyber Pass is a region near the Afghan/Pakistan border known for firearms production – particularly for very crude guns made with crude tools. This particular pistol is an excellent example of the type – it looks like a Colt 1911, although it is smaller and more akin to a .32ACP Llama. It is a [...]

One More Chinese Mystery Pistol at RIA!

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This particular Chinese pistol is a great example of all the elements of a proper Chinese Mystery Pistol: sights that don’t function, gibberish markings, mechanical derivation from the Browning 1900, aesthetic elements form the C96 Broomhandle Mauser, and clearly handmade parts. However, this one is a particularly high quality example of the type.

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Spanish Anarchist Pistols: the RE and Ascaso at RIA

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When the Spanish Civil War erupted, the Nationalist/Fascist forces quickly captured all the major arms production factories in the country. This left the Republican forces dependent on arms importation and the creation of new factories. The two major efforts to make weapons in Republican-controlled areas resulted in the Ascaso (named after an Anarchist martyr) and [...]

M1 Enforcer Carbine Pistols at RIA

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There are rarely any truly original ideas in the gun world, and today’s “pistol” ARs and AKs are not among them. Back in the 60s and 70s, companies were marketing the “Enforcer” M1, a pistol version of the WWII M1 Carbine. Rock Island has two in their upcoming auction, one made of military surplus [...]

Campo-Giro M1913 at RIA (Video)

The Campo-Giro was Spain’s first indigenous self-loading military pistol, adopted in 1912 to replace the Belgian 1908 Bergmann-Mars. Only a small number were made of the original M1913 variety, with the vast majority being the later and slightly more refined M1913/16. This particular example at RIA is an early one, and particularly interesting to look [...]

Andrew Burgess’ Blow-Forward Pistols

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You may recognize Andrew Burgess from guns like the Burgess folding shotgun and the 1883 Colt-Burgess lever action rifle…but you probably don’t know him for his semiauto handgun designs. Until recently, I had not even realized he had designed a self-loading handgun – and then I happened to run into a fellow who owns a [...]

Slow Motion: Mauser 1914 Pocket Pistol

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Mauser’s classic early pocket pistol began as the model 1910, in .25 ACP caliber (6.35mm). It was then re-engineered for the larger .32 ACP (7.65mm) cartridge in 1914, and a final set of modifications too place in 1934. It is a simple blowback mechanism, with disassembly rather different from most other blowback pocket pistols.

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Slow Motion: Interesting Extractor Problem (Schwarzlose 1898)

Many people don’t realize that an extractor is not strictly necessary in many types of pistols – several early blowback models (notably the Bergmann 1896, as well as some later Spanish pistols) did not even have extractors. The residual chamber pressure after the bolt opens is often sufficient to push the case out of the [...]

Schwarzlose 1898 Pistol (Video)

Schwarzlose 1898

The model 1898 Schwarzlose was a self loading pistol definitely ahead of its time. It was simple, powerful (for the period; it was chambered for 7.63mm Mauser), and remarkably ergonomic. It used a short recoil, rotating bolt mechanism to operate, and very cleverly had one single spring which did the duties of primary recoil spring, [...]